Ask Away Blog: November 2016

Holiday Shopping Survival Guide

Wednesday, November 30, 2016




Tis the season for chaos... traffic, lines, coupons, and money flying out of your bank account so fast you almost lose track of it.

So today's post is going to be a few tips that will help your holiday shopping be a bit easier and less chaotic. 

Hydrate
You can't run around shopping WITHOUT being thirsty.  Make sure you keep water with you or in your car.  Hydration also keeps you happy so you aren't cranky in miserable in the already crappy long line at the registers. I bring Sparkling Ice Essence with me because it has zero calories and it's naturally flavored.  It's sparkling so it's a bit more exciting than your average bottle of water!



Snacks
Always bring snacks with you because nothing is more stressful than being hungry and cranky while you're out shopping.  Besides, if you stop to get food when you're out you may spend more time and money than you meant to.  I like Go Organically Fruit Snacks because they are certified organic and made from real fruit purees and real fruit juices.  I also enjoy Welch's Fruit Snacks since they are fat free, gluten free, and contain lots of vitamins!  Not to mention they are delicious.   And of course Viki's Granola is made from all natural ingredients and comes in plenty of yummy flavors!

Comfy Clothes
Always wear comfortable clothes when shopping.  You may want to look cute but trust me, those stilettos will be painful before you even make it half way down the mall. I like to wear comfortable lightweight clothing that's easy to change out of in case I have to try things on for myself.  Sometimes I even wear a light coat so that I don't have to lug it around in the mall and get frustrated with having my arms full.

Pack Light
Whenever I go shopping I use a smaller handbag and I only carry what I need. This way you don't have to worry about your 20 pound suitcase of a handbag banging into displays and knocking stuff over. 

Make A List
You don't have to check it twice but you darn well better make one.  It's foolish to go into a store without having an idea of what you want.   So make a list of what people you need to buy for and what gift you would like to get.

Set A Budget
Set a budget based on what you can afford and then stick to it. 

Map Out Your Sales and Trips
Plan out what stores you will go to and in what order. If there are sales make sure you include those in your plan.  If you want to stop at the places with doorbusters you want to hit those stores first, obviously.  If you have coupons have them ready to go when you get in the store so you can grab what you need and make it to the register in a decent amount of time. 







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A Fun + Simple DIY Holiday Gift Tutorial

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.  All opinions are mine alone.  #ShareTheHoliday #CollectiveBias



I know it's still early but I have pretty much all of my Holiday shopping done.  I stuck to my budget and my list and I didn't stress myself out trying to think of what to get people.   In fact today I'm going to show you an easy and fun tutorial to make a DIY Holiday gift, container and all!   

I make these for neighbors and the postman and other delivery people.  As a blogger, I get a lot of packages and I always want the people that help get them to me know that they are very much appreciated.  So what better way to do that then with homemade cookies in neatly decorated festive packaging?  So follow along for this easy cookie container tutorial. 



What You Will Need:
Cookies
Wax Paper
Decorative Tape
Rubbermaid TakeAlongs



[STEP 1 - MAKE COOKIES]
Whether you make them from scratch or you buy cookie mix at the store, it's the thought that counts so choose a few different types of cookies.  I chose Chocolate Chip and Snicker doodle.  I figure I can't go wrong that way. 



[STEP 2 - DECORATE Rubbermaid TakeAlongs]
This is the fun part.  While you wait for your cookies to bake you can use your decorative tape to decorate your containers. 




You can make fun designs with the decorative tape and if you really want to get creative you could practically cover the containers completely.  Decorative tape can be peeled off too. 
  



I use Rubbermaid TakeAlongs because they are perfect for storing my meals and snacks whenever I share them with people.  Plus it's a great way for me to celebrate the season of giving by giving them (and what's inside) to those that I appreciate and care about.  The cool thing about Holiday TakeAlongs is that they come in limited edition red, green, and prints for the holidays.  

You can find them on a special end cap at Walmart between 10/29-12/24.   


I love Rubbermaid TakeAlongs when it comes to storage and gifting.  They have a Quik Clik Seal™ to keep food and treats secure so they don't spill.  I love the soft lids and how well they tightly grip the container so I know there's a reliable seal.  They even have a large tab that makes it so easy to open them.  And it's the gift that keeps on giving because they are top rack dishwasher safe, freezer safe, and even microwavable! 



You can even use decorative pens to write a To/From Note and tape it to the top of the container. You can make it as fancy or as simple as you want.  That's the best part of a DIY gift - ANY amount of effort makes it special. 



[STEP 3 - FILL WITH COOKIES]
Once your cookies are done make sure you line the Rubbermaid TakeAlongs with wax paper, place a few cookies in, then layer with another piece of wax paper before you place more cookies inside. I like doing this so that the cookies don't get smashed and stuck together.  




[STEP 4 -  GIVE]
This is the fun part where you get to give your finished product to the recipient!

Doesn't it feel so good to put a bit of extra time and effort into a gift?   Who would you give this DIY Cookie Container gift to? For more great ideas click here!





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How To Get A Better Night's Sleep

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and Breathe Right® Nasal Strips. All opinions are mine alone. #TomorrowStartsTonight #CollectiveBias
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It's no surprise that a good night's sleep determines how the next day will go for you.  Think about it.  When you don't sleep well at night, you are cranky, tired, and distracted the next day.   You have trouble sticking to a proper diet because you start craving the wrong things, and if you don't get better sleep the next night, your week will continue to go downhill.   No one likes a poor night's sleep, so today I am sharing some tips with you that can help you get a better night's sleep so that you can wake up and go about your day feeling refreshed and ready to tackle whatever comes your way.

There are many aspects that go into creating a good night's sleep for yourself.  


[1] Proper Pillow
So many people use just any old pillow and oftentimes, that's why they aren't getting a good night's sleep.  If you sleep on a pillow that doesn't get your spine in the proper alignment, you can wake up multiple time during the night to readjust yourself.  Each time you wake up, you knock yourself out of whatever stage of sleep you were in, and then your body and mind have to start all over.  You are like a battery, and sleep is what recharges you.  But if you keep interrupting that charge and having to start over, you aren't going to wake up with a full mental battery.

So ask yourself what makes you uncomfortable (if anything) when you sleep? Is your head always pushed up too high? Maybe you need a pillow with less fluff.  If you feel like you don't have enough support (especially if you sleep on your side like I do), then you should try to find a pillow that supports your head even more.  You want to feel comfortable and at peace when you lay down to rest each night.


[2] Comfortable Temperature
I know that thermostat wars are very common in most households but let me tell you that the cooler your bedroom is, the easier it is to fall asleep and stay asleep.  Ever notice how when you're hot, you are restless? You kick the covers off and just can't get comfortable.  So if you can turn your thermostat down to where you aren't warm at night, it's an ideal sleeping situation for most people.  Also, having a fan on to circulate air and create a breeze helps a lot.  I can't even sleep without a fan anymore because I need to feel that moving air.  It helps me get cozy and warm in my covers, and I can just drift off to sleep.


[3] Darkness
Okay, so obviously your lights should be off when you sleep, but there are some other factors that come into play.  Even the slightest glow of an LED light from an alarm clock, DVD player, or cable box can stir you out of sleep.  Make sure your blinds all shut, and cover the window so no outside lights (like from a street lamp) can get in.  Wearing an eye mask also helps keep light from stirring you during the night.


[4] Breathing
I am totally guilty of being a mouth breather at night.  It's because I have a lot of nasal congestion.  This sometimes makes it uncomfortable for me when I'm trying to fall asleep, but even worse is that poor James struggles to fall asleep when he can hear my loud breathing.  Unfortunately, if your partner is noisy at night, that can prevent YOU from sleeping soundly.  When you lay down at night, you are ready to fall asleep, right? Well, if your partner is noisy, then you definitely will spend extra time trying to tune them out so you can fall asleep.  That means you’re wasting precious time that you could have spent sleeping already.  This can make you frustrated or even resentful of your partner and obviously cranky the next day.

So now I use Breathe Right® Nasal Strips because they are a way to help relieve nasal congestion. These one time use nasal strips are great during a cold or cough, but I have been using them every day. If you do use them when you're sick, just know that they are drug free so they are safe to use with any cough or cold medication.  Breathe Right Nasal Strips instantly open your nose up to 38% more than cold or allergy medications alone.  They are also clinically proven to instantly lift your nasal passages and open your nose to help you breathe better.  

To PROPERLY apply Breathe Right Nasal Strips, you must first wash and dry your nose.    You then remove the liner and place the strip on your nose, making sure it's not too high or too low.  To apply, press the ends and rub them gently to secure them in place.  

To PROPERLY remove Breathe Right Nasal Strips you should do so WITH water like when washing your face in the morning or when you are in the shower.  Always remove it slowly.  Loosen the ends and carefully lift the strip from both sides.  



You can find Breathe Right Nasal Strips in the pharmacy and personal care section at Walmart.  And here are some special offers where you can get a Breathe Right $1 Off Coupon and/or a free sample!

In addition to nasal strips make sure you vacuum and dust your home and bedroom regularly to get rid of the allergens you can breathe in.  Also, be sure to wash your bed sheets every 2 weeks.

So tell me, are there things you will need to change in your life to ensure a better night's sleep?





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All of the Reasons I Shop at Chewy.com for My Dogs

This site has affiliate links and sponsored content. Read my Disclosure Policy.



You may have noticed that I am always blogging about Chewy.com and there are so many reasons I love Chewy and how convenient it is. So I wanted to put together a list to let you guys know why I love Chewy so much and why you may benefit from it as well.




Fast Shipping
I swear no sooner do I order what I need, does it arrive at my door.  It not only saves me the hassle of running to the pet store but it's so nice to know I can get the products I need within a day or two.  Plus shipping is free over $50.


Pee Pads
When you have small dogs like I do, you go through pee pads as if they were diapers.  When I go to pet stores I never find the size and high quality I need so that's why I just turn to Chewy now and I'm never disappointed. 



Dog Food
There are SO many kinds of dog foods available.  Sometimes I buy the same old thing but sometimes I switch it up and try new things and I love that it's so easy and convenient for me to browse from the comfort of my own home. Recently I tried Natural Balance Chicken & Sweet Potato Tubs for Rocky and he LOVES THEM! It's full of shreds of high-quality chicken in brother and is grain free and comes in the most convenient size for him!




Dog Treats
No matter what the occassion, I can always find amazing treats, especially healthier all natural alternatives


Dog Supplies
Don't think it's just food and treats from Chewy.  No way! I get toothpaste, toothbrushes, flea and tick treatment, collars, bowls, leashes, grooming supplies, and much much more from Chewy.  




So if you want one less errand to run every week or every month, check out Chewy and even look into the possibility of Autoship! 














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How I Give My Hair an At-Home Blowout

Monday, November 28, 2016

This site has affiliate links and sponsored content. Read my Disclosure Policy.


You know why I love my hair salon appointments so much? Well, it's because after I get my color done, and my hair scrubbed, and then it's time to dry out, I always leave with a great blow out and I try to stretch my blowout as many days as I can until I have to watch it again.   There's just something about someone else being able to stand behind you and dry your hair and give it that extra volume so it stays full and shiny for several days.   I had questioned my stylist about how it's done, and she explained it to me so simply.   She said the more I do it, the easier it is.  So for weeks and weeks I began practicing.  It really did get easier over time, not to mention my arms were stronger and able to be held up over my head longer.   

So for today's post I figured I would let you guys know the simple method that works on MY hair. 


#1 Scrub
When I'm in the shower I really scrub my scalp to get all the product build up out of there.  Product build up can really make your hair gunky and greasy.


#2 Rinse
Sometimes I would be in a rush and I wouldn't properly rinse my hair out.  So when I say rinse, I mean really really rinse until your hair is squeaky clean with NO suds left.  I actually turn the water on to cold to help seal the cuticles in the final moments before I step out of the shower.

#3 Towel Dry
After I squeeze my hair out really well I wrap it in a towel and get dressed.  Then I usually dilly dally for 10-15 minutes on my phone until I realize it's that time.... time to dry the hair!

#4 Blot
When I take my towel off I gently blot the hair around my scalp.  I never vigorously rub it with the towel as that can actually damage it.  

#5 Comb and Part
I use a gentle comb to detangle my hair and then I use a fine comb to make my part.

#6 Product
If you use any product you can add some VERY lightly to your hair.  I never add anything near my roots though. 

#7 Dry & Finger Comb
I learned this by watching how my stylist does it, but basically the next thing I do is use the hair dryer around my scalp to dry the roots.  As I do this I use my fingers to move my hair around so that the air can reach all parts of my scalp.  I do this until my roots are left damp.

#8 Clip
This is the part where I clip up the top third of my hair so that it's out of the way I can get to the underside.  

#9 Dry with Round Brush
Now I take a big round brush and I take my hair in sections (about 2-3 inches wide) and hold it out and away from my head with the brush and blow dry it from root to tip.  Sometimes I have to repeat this on the same section of hair a few times.  When you are holding it away from your hair make sure you hold it straight up.   Then blast it with heat right at the root.  This is what gives my hair it's volume so it doesn't just fall flat against my head. 

#10 Repeat on Top Half
Once the entire bottom area of my hair is dried this way I release the clipped up top half an dry it the exact same way in sections.

#11 Flat Iron
Then I clip everything up again and flat iron both halves of my hair. 

VOILA!

This is done in the evening so the next day I am able to wear my hair down.   


The day after that I usually wear my hair half up in a little mini top knot to hide the grease and it keep it from falling flat.  Then that night it's time to do the whole process again.


The major thing to focus on for this process is having a great hair dryer. I use the Gold ‘N Hot Professional 1875 Watt Ionic Ultra-Lightweight Dryer with Tourmaline which costs $39.99 at Folica.com


 As I said before this process makes my arms so tired so it's a luxury to use this dryer because it's ultra light but it still has a huge output of negative ions to make my hair dryer faster.  It's less damaging in the long run and it leaves my hair shiny and gorgeous! 

Tourmaline conditioning emits negative ions heat to reduce static frizz and seal in moisture. There are 2 speeds and 6 settings for heat. 

So give it a try, be patient, and don't give up.  It really does get easier and easier over time.  Or, next time you're at the salon ask your stylist for some tips and watch her as she does it to your hair.





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Buy My Book [Fixing Your Finances] Black Friday Sale

Friday, November 25, 2016



It's Black Friday! And of course I have a sale for you! Today through the end of the day on Monday you can purchase my book, Fixing Your Finances, for just $4.99 plus shipping.



Just use the code BLKFRIDAY at checkout at this link.

You basically get it for $7 shipped!!   


Fixing Your Finances | A Practical Guide to Managing Money and Eliminating Debt



Hurry up and get your copy today! 

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Books I Recommend You Read [November]

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

This site has affiliate links and sponsored content. Read my Disclosure Policy.









I'm going to try to make this a monthly series.  Last month I made a post about all the books I had read thus far that I loved.  This month I have a few new favorites. 


Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
This book combines some significant things that most people can relate to including wanting to fit in as a student in school, sex, and violence.  I really found this book hard to put down and I actually read it in a day.  It includes a tragic school shooting but it has a really REALLY emotional twist to it.


Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain
OMG this book is one of my favorites FOR SURE.  It combines teenage lust/romance with family problems (we can all relate) and the tragic event of losing a loved one.


The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain
Another great Diane Chamberlain novel.  This one is basically about a girl who is trying to figure out what happened to her sister that supposedly died, but she knows there are some family secrets she must uncover first.



The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan
This is a great thriller of a novel that is told over the course of a night but the whole back story unravels as you read.  Basically, someone is dead and you find out why they died, and how, and it's a very shocking ending.



The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Whalen
This book is amazing and is the perfect little suburban story of how twisted and scandalous a town can be.



Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
This needs to be made into a movie! It's an amazing story about a woman whos eems to have the perfect life when in reality her husband is a psychopath and she HAS to somehow escape.  One of my favorite books by far!


So there are some of my favorites for this month. Check back at the end of next month for more!


Do you have any books you'd like to recommend?
 





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A Doggie Stocking Stuffer Gift Guide (+ Giveaway)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

This site has affiliate links and sponsored content. Read my Disclosure Policy.






Whether you're like me and have dogs as kids, or you have both children and dogs, you may like to give your dogs stocking stuffers every year.  It's one of the highlights of Christmas for me.  I love finding goodies to put in their individual stockings.





The challenging part is making sure it's products that I consider safe for my babies to enjoy.  So without further ado I put together a stocking stuffer gift guide from my pups to yours! These products are all from SmartBones. 

I love SmartBones chews because they are a healthier alternative to Rawhide and are made with a layor of wholesome veggies including corn, swee potatoes, peas and carrots combined with real chicken.  It's a taste that dogs love.  SmartBones products are completely rawhide-free and highly digestible.  They are also great at keeping dogs occupied because it embraces their natural instinct to chew.  SmartBones are now available in SmartNaturals!   SmartNaturals are available in two varieties - Grass Fed Beef and sweet potatoes or Grass Fed Lamb and rosemary. 







Stuffed Twistsz
Pork Stuffed Twistsz Innovative Chews are exciting for dogs because they have a pork flavor chew surprise in the center.  Chewing on these helps maintain healthy teeth and gums for dogs as well.  There's no fear of these twisting apart and being damaging liekethey were if they were made of actual rawhie.




Smart Chews
Smart Chews are a favorite in my house.  They are adorable little animal shaped chews that are grain-free and have no artificial colors.  The great thing about no dyes means that they won't stain my furniture red or green.  They are vitamin and mineral enhanced and they are a great thing to give my pups whenever I have company over and I want to keep them occupied.




SmartSticks
SmartSticks are made with real meat (beef or chicken) and are very easy to digest.  These are a great after dinner reward and it helps embrace the instinct to chew that every dog has.   




SmartNaturals Treats
SmartNaturals Treats come in two flavors - beef and lamb.  They are both 100% natural and contain no corn, wheat, gluten, soy, or fillers.  There's also NO artificial colors or preservatives.   These are great as a training reward or just fun to slip to your dog here and there throughout the day. 





I can't tell you how much my pups love SmartBones.  They are a favorite in our home so it's no surprise that their stockings are stuffed full of them at Christmas!

Make sure you like SmartBones on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and add them on Instagram.

And guess what!? We have a giveaway for you today! 


One lucky winner is going to win the Stocking Stuffer Prize Pack  which includes a $25 Visa Gift Card and some SmartBones!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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